While our genealogical tree cannot be traced back to Semmelweis, Hand-in-Scan has an interesting story so far.
The Stery-Hand project (as it was called originally) started as a student assignment, managed and operated by young, enthusiastic graduates of the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. The team aimed from the very beginning to join the international fight against Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAI). Having developed the first engineering prototype in late 2010, the team was desperately looking for funding to continue the development. The first external funding came from a student grant provided by the Singaporean government, and the 4 Hungarian teammates were on their way to Southeast Asia’s little gem in early 2011. For some of us, this was the first time on an airplane in our entire life.
The two weeks spent in Singapore made a significant difference to the project. Having met the Clinical Director and Infection Control Chair of National University Health System (NUHS), the team could finally get access to healthcare workers for clinical trials. Two month later, the team returned to Singapore with a brand new prototype and brand, and performed the largest-scale on-site hand hygiene assessment in history. The scientific data they collected immediately allowed to put the project on a new track, and to attract new clinical partners, and even business investors.
The Hand-in-Scan objective hand hygiene assessment device received the grand prize at the 1st ICPIC Innovation Academy in July 2011. With the professional and financial support of the award and the committee, the team has successfully negotiated a venture capital investment, to develop the market-ready version of the prior prototype. In the meanwhile, the ICPIC fund enabled the team to continue its prototype development, leading to better technical solutions, while becoming an integrated part of the Semmelweis University’s MD program in Budapest.
Having conducted initial microbiological studies, they are now ready to launch a major assessment campaign. The project received further acknowledgment, most recently, the LISA MedTech award at the Best of Biotech business plan competition in Vienna and the 1st Prize at the European Investment Bank Institute’s Social Innovation Tournament in Luxembourg.
An outstanding moment came for Hand-in-Scan in early 2012, when the project was recognized by the Kairos Society, chosen to be amongst the 50 most promising student project in the world (Kairos Top 50). And then the opportunity was given to present the project in Brussels, first receiving the ACES Academic Enterprise Awards—The Young Entrepreneur Award from Science|Business, then the European Young Innovator of the Year (EYIF) award. These prestigious awards opened many doors for the innovators, who can now claim global partners on three continents.
The Hand-in-Scan team’s main focus and mission remains to crack down on HAI, and they continue to synchronize their work and educational programs with the WHO guidelines. In spring 2013, on the World Hand Hygiene Day (5 May) the team will return to Singapore with their most advanced device to repeat the groundbreaking measurements from 2011, and initiate a global campaign for hand hygiene.